Aerotech White Paper - Piezo Engineering Tutorial
In 1880, while performing experiments with tourmaline, quartz, topaz, cane sugar and Rochelle salt crystals, Pierre and Jacques Curie discovered that when mechanical stress was applied to a crystal, faint electric charges developed on the surface of that crystal. The prefix “piezo” comes from the Greek piezein, which means to squeeze or press. As a result, piezoelectricity is electrical charge that is produced on certain materials when that material is subjected to an applied mechanical stress or pressure. This is known as the direct piezoelectric effect.
The converse or inverse piezoelectric effect, or the application of an electric field to induce strain, was discovered using thermodynamic principles in 1881 by Gabriel Lippmann. It is the inverse piezoelectric effect that enables piezoelectric materials to be used in positioning applications.